Naturally, we love anything and everything that has to do with lipstick. So when we came across the Hong Kong–based multimedia artist May Sum and her amazing collection of handmade lipstick sculptures, which she sells in her Etsy shop wahahafactory (among other works), we had to share it with you.
After graduating from City University’s Creative Media department and a fan of beauty and fashion, Sum went on to work as a beauty reporter for a magazine and built a portfolio in makeup and art direction. When the publication she was working for closed down, she was asked to work as a freelance makeup artist, which ultimately led her to explore her other artistic talents.
Sum was able to turn her love of fashion, beauty, and the icons of those industries into 3D carved sculptures made out of actual lipstick. And not every tube is sturdy and stable enough to work as Sum’s “canvas”. She only uses lippies from NARS, MAC, Estée Lauder, YSL, and Max Factor. Sum has sculpted everyone from Anna Wintour and Kate Moss to Lady Gaga and Marilyn Monroe.
And it isn’t just celebs that Sum sculpts—she also takes custom orders. She can make a lipstick likeness from almost any photo you send her, with the exception of those that are too detailed; some things are “impossible to sculpt” in lipstick, she says. Each of Sum’s lipstick sculptures takes approximately two weeks to design, and she always warns customers not to expect perfection since each one is in fact, hand crafted. (Though, we were pretty blown away by how detailed her Greek mythology carvings came out on tubes of cream bronzer.) Perfection or not, this is some of the most impressive and original artwork we’ve seen.
Clearly, others feel the same, too. Each sculpture sells from upwards of $400-$600, which is quite the business, considering most of the lipstick she uses to sculpt, costs no more than $40. But the time, focus, and detail that goes into each and every one of her carvings, makes the money worth it to her loyal fans. But Sum isn’t in it just for the profit. During her 2012 art exhibit in Shanghai’s Wheelock Square, she hosted an event in hopes of “encouraging people to use makeup as a way to help realize their personal and professional dreams.” Seems like Sum believes makeup can help enhance your true beauty inside and out—and we couldn’t agree more.